Facing dearth of technical talent, this startup turned to Chicago's veteran community

Written by Andreas Rekdal
Published on Jul. 29, 2016
Facing dearth of technical talent, this startup turned to Chicago's veteran community

In a booming tech ecosystem, finding the right employees is often the trickiest part of scaling your company. Framework Communications, an IT services provider, discovered an untapped talent pool in the city's veteran community. 

Though not a veteran himself, Framework CEO John Fakhoury graduated from high school in the spring of 2002 and saw many friends enlist in the U.S. military upon graduation. Throughout college, he kept up with some of those friends and witnessed the toll of repeated deployments. So when he heard about the difficulties many veterans face while re-entering the civilian workforce, Fakhoury thought his business could be part of the solution.

“I believe that veterans are hard-working folks,” he said. “If we train them in the skills we need — computer networking, systems admin, security and so on — we would be able to give them long-lasting careers with higher earnings potential.”

So Fakhoury pitched the idea of a job training partnership to the Department of Veteran Affairs and the National Able Network, a Chicago-based workforce development nonprofit. Together with Able, which is a certified Cisco and Microsoft training partner, he put together a plan for reaching, training and hiring former servicemembers. Able would provide technical training and resources to unemployed veterans while Framework would bring them on site to give them practical, hands-on experience.

Today, more than a third of the company's 18 employees are former members of the armed services.

Fakhoury believes the work ethic and creative problem solving skills his veteran employees bring to the table have been instrumental to his company’s success. Framework was an Inc. 500 fastest growing company in 2014, and has served over 1,500 clients in the Chicagoland area.

A member of the Board of Directors of Student Veterans of America since 2015, Fakhoury encourages other businesses to look to veterans when building their workforces.

“I’ve seen this program work,” he said. “And ultimately it’s been a huge piece of the success — to having the best people, and to getting the results that we’ve gotten.”

Image via Framework Communications.

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